A recent study conducted by a workplace psychologist suggests that rudeness in the workplace can be contagious, just like the common cold and flu. The researcher from Vancouver says people who are exposed to rudeness in the office should take some time off before interacting with another person, so that the affliction is not spread further.
The research – which has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology – describes rudeness as a "negative behavioral contagion," a characteristic that ends up creating an army of people at the workplace who claim to be its victims.
Dr. Jennifer Newman, the head researcher, believes the common cold isn't the only contagious infection that affects worker productivity. Instead, employees who are exposed to unpleasant behavior are likely to spread the rudeness at a much greater pace.
“The exposed worker becomes a carrier and takes it out on others not connected to the original interaction, and so they will be rude to the next person they interact with,” said Newman, in an interview with CBC News.
The results of the research conducted by Newman claim that nearly 98 percent of the employees report rudeness at workplace and 50 percent say that they face rudeness at least once a week. Not making an eye contact, insults, abrupt behavior or dealing with someone without respect or dignity are all signs of rudeness, says Newman.
The researcher further explained that even a snappy response or a rude email has the tendency to affect the productivity of employees.
“It comes down to a reduction in creativity because when workers are less helpful, performances suffer. There's also an increase in psychological distress, negative emotions, and there's more burnout and emotional exhaustion.”
To help curb the spread of rudeness, the researcher suggests that people should take a break before interacting with someone after they've had a rude encounter with anyone. They should go to the bathroom, wash their hands or think through different perspectives before reacting rudely to another co-worker.